The Buena Vista baseball team secured its fifth straight Iowa Conference Tournament berth on Sunday afternoon with a big doubleheader sweep at Loras College by scores of 1-0 and 4-2.
The two teams played a tightly contested pitcher's duel in the opener with only six combined hits in the contest. Oddly enough, the Beavers scored the game's only run on a wild pitch in the third inning. Back-to-back singles with one out put runners at first and second for BVU before a sacrifice bunt from Nick Schlecht moved them each up one base. Tanner Truesdell, who had the first of the two base hits, scored one batter later on a wild pitch.
Junior Jon Ringblom, who struck out four of the first six batters he faced, worked the first four innings to improve his overall record to 5-1 on the year. He allowed just one hit.
Senior Brennan Holm pitched around a hit and an error in the fifth by striking out the final two hitters of the inning in his only inning of work. Sophomore Jake Bjorkgren pitched the final two innings for his sixth save of the season.
Truesdell, along with Weston Foxx and Jesse Munsterman, finished with one hit.
BVU trailed most of game two after the Duhawks were able to manufacture a run in the opening inning for a 1-0 lead. Neither team was then able to push a run across until the Beavers rallied to even things up in the sixth.
Schlecht led off the frame with a double to right center before advancing to third on Joe Paletta's ground out to first. After Brandon Wessels was hit by a pitch, Munsterman then reached on a bunt single, scoring Schlecht from third.
Loras got the lead right back in the seventh by getting a two-out run-scoring double down the right field line.
After neither team scored in the eighth, BVU scored three times in the ninth in what was a wild sequence of plays.
The Beavers had the bases loaded with two outs when Loras tried to pick-off Foxx had first. Pinch runner Ryan Duncan then took and stole home, on a play where Alex Davis also scored from second on a throwing error by the Duhawk first baseman. Wessels then tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single through the left side, scoring Foxx.
Lucas Hadaway, who came on in relief, worked around a one-out walk by getting a double-play ground ball to end the game and give the Beavers a spot into next week's postseason tournament.
Sophomore Ian Grigsby got the start on the mound and pitched the first three innings, allowing just one run on three hits, while striking out two. Freshman Kendall Hazel then went five innings in relief, allowing one run on five hits before Hadaway came on to tally his first save. With the win, Hazel improves to 4-2 on the year, as BVU has won for the 11th time in its last 15 games overall.
Munsterman and Truesdell each finished with two hits, as BVU outhit the Duhawks, 9-8. The Beavers did, however, strand 10 runners, compared to just three for Loras.
Buena Vista improves to 22-16 overall (14-12 IIAC) and locks up the third seed in the tournament. The team will now close out the regular season and the series on Monday afternoon with the final two games against the Duhawks starting at 3:30pm.
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.